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Morning Notes

Wolftrap Creek in Vienna is high during a rainy Saturday (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Amazon Plans Chantilly Data Center — “Amazon.com Inc.’s data center arm is working to develop a new data center facility in Chantilly, with plans to invest nearly $36 million into the project, according to Fairfax County records. The vacant property located at 3980 Virginia Mallory Drive is part of Amazon’s 46.4 acres in Avion Parkway, which the company bought for $55.9 million in 2021.” [Washington Business Journal]

Rappelling Stunt Supports Fairfax County Nonprofit — “On Thursday and Friday, about 80 people, including two local elected officials, a Washington Post reporter, and a member of the D.C. Divas women’s football team, dressed in full pads and uniform, rappelled down the side of the Crystal City Hilton to raise funds and awareness for New Hope Housing.” [The Washington Post]

County to Choose COVID-19 Memorial Site by September — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is positioning the county as one of the first localities in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. to build a permanent pandemic remembrance. The Fairfax County Park Authority recently submitted a memorandum to the board, summarizing project details, including design considerations, the project timeline and next steps, including the memorial’s location.” [WTOP]

County Board Sides with American Legion After Neighbor Complaints — “The Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) voted 4-1 April 27 to overturn the zoning administrator’s ruling that American Legion Post 270 in McLean improperly was operating as a banquet-and-reception hall. Surrounding residents have complained about noise, loitering, late-night events and parties lasting until the early morning” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

FCPD Traffic Campaign Yields Citations — “On Tuesday [May 3], officers from our Traffic Division wrote over 100 citations and warnings during our extra enforcement campaign in the Annandale area. This campaign runs through May 22 and is geared towards making our roads safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Afghan Refugees Look for Jobs in Tysons — “Job seekers, like 21-year-old Mohammad Fasih Yaqoobi, had the chance to meet with more than 30 employers hiring for roles at all skill levels. In Yaqoobi’s case, the fair represented an opportunity to provide for his family, who have already lived a lifetime of unimaginable circumstances.” [NBC4]

Chapel Road Closed in Clifton Starting Today — “Chapel Road (Route 641) between Water Street and Yates Ford Road (Route 612) will be closed to through traffic, weather permitting, Monday, May 9 through Wednesday, May 11 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day to replace a stormwater pipe, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.” [VDOT]

It’s Monday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 60 and low of 42. Sunrise at 6:03 am and sunset at 8:10 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Police Make Progress on Hannah Choi Murder Case — Fairfax County detectives believe they know the location of the man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend and dumping her body in a Maryland park, according to Police Chief Kevin Davis. He says the department anticipates apprehending Joel Mosso Merino, who has been on the run since March, “in the very near future.” [WTOP]

Circuit Court Officially Adds First Female Judge of Color — “Tania M.L. Saylor, the first woman of color to serve as a Fairfax County Circuity [sic] Court Judge will be presented her official commission on Friday, May 6, at 4 p.m. in Courtroom 5J of the Fairfax County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend the investiture ceremony.” [Fairfax County Government]

Key FCPS Official Named Fairfax City Superintendent — “The City of Fairfax School Board didn’t look far when picking its next superintendent. The board on Monday offered Jeff Platenberg the role. Platenberg currently works for Fairfax County Public Schools as the assistant superintendent for facilities and transportation services.” [WTOP]

Locally Owned Coffee Shop Opens in Newington — “Two neighbors who live close to the Landsdowne shopping center are now the owners of a new coffee shop. The locally owned Coffee In opened a few weeks ago and will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday at 6432 Landsdowne Centre Drive.” [Patch]

Herndon Foster Mother Starts Nonprofit — The nonprofit Foster the Family “will show up to a foster home, within the first 24 hours, with dinner, clothes, PJ’s, hygiene products and all the supplies a child needs, saving the parents an emergency trip to the store, and helping the child feel comfortable in what can be a scary transition.” [ABC7]

McLean Church Builds Labyrinth — “Trinity United Methodist Church dedicated a labyrinth as its new Prayer Garden on Easter morning between worship services…The labyrinth is surrounded by plantings and benches with lighting to facilitate an atmosphere worthy of spiritual reflection and meditation. It is the most significant labyrinth in scope and size in the McLean area.” [Sun Gazette]

South County Students Send Letters to Seniors — “In Lorton, Virginia, 92-year-old Bernice Alexander reads from just one of the dozens of letters received at her senior living community. They were written by teenagers at South County High School, and some come with artwork, paintings and cheery posters, too.” [NBC4]

County Adopts Bill of Rights for Kids’ Sports — “The Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood & Community Services (NCS), along with the Fairfax County Athletic Council, is pleased to adopt the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports. Developed by the Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program, this is a new resource designed to ensure that all children have a right to a quality sports experience.” [NCS]

It’s Wednesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 61. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:05 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

A spring dandelion (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Case Against Park Police Who Shot McLean Man Dropped — “Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) on Friday dropped the state’s federal appeal in the manslaughter case against two U.S. Park Police officers, effectively ending any attempt at criminal prosecution of the officers who fatally shot unarmed motorist Bijan Ghaisar in a Fairfax County neighborhood in 2017.” [The Washington Post]

Hundreds Help Pack Ukrainian Refugee Donations — “Hundreds of volunteers gathered this weekend in Oakton to help pack approx. 1800 boxes with donations collected for displaced Ukrainians. Huge thanks to our community members for donating, these wonderful volunteers, and to Paxton Co. for generously shipping these items.” [Chairman Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Mount Vernon Fire Started by Hair Dryer — A house fire in the 3700 block of Nalls Road on Wednesday (April 20) was started accidentally by an electrical event involving a hair dryer in the basement bathroom, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. There were reported injuries or displacements, but the fire caused an estimated $37,500 in damages. [FCFRD]

Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers Critical to Covid Response — “Since February of 2020, over 1,400 MRC members volunteered more than 65,000 hours at vaccination clinics and testing events, and assisting with outreach, isolation and quarantine efforts, logistical support, and so much more.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Merrifield Nonprofit Gets Boost from Football Fans — “Wolf Trap Animal Rescue keeps receiving donations from the public in honor of Dwayne Haskins, the former Washington quarterback who died in an accident on a Florida highway on April 9. Haskins…selected Wolf Trap Animal Rescue as his organization to represent for the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats campaign.” [Patch]

Turner Farm Observatory Seeks “Dark Sky” Designation — “To help reverse the trend of growing light pollution, the Great Falls observatory applied to become an Urban Night Sky Place with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA)…If approved, the observatory would become the first IDA-designated place in the Washington region.” [Greater Greater Washington]

Construction Starts on Woodley Hills Park Playground — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will begin the installation of a new playground and removal of the existing playground the week of April 25, 2022. Construction access to the site will be from Old Mount Vernon Road. It is anticipated that the playground replacement will be completed by early June 2022.” [FCPA]

Reston Library Book Sale Starts Wednesday — The Friends of the Reston Regional Library will host its biggest book sale of the year, starting with a members-only night from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday (April 27). The sale will be open to all starting at 10 a.m. Thursday through Sunday (April 28-May 2) and include 35,000 to 40,000 books. [Friends of the Reston Regional Library]

It’s Monday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 55. Sunrise at 6:19 am and sunset at 7:57 pm. [Weather.gov]

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(Updated at 10:35 a.m.) An all-volunteer nonprofit that has served the Vienna area for more than 50 years needs a new home for its food and clothing pantry.

The Committee for Helping Others (CHO) learned last year that its current storage space at 133 Park Street NE will no longer be available after this fall, because the Vienna Courts condominium complex where it’s located is preparing for a redevelopment, according to publicity chair Anne Moran.

Operating since 1969, CHO has leased the site for free from the Vienna Presbyterian Church for the past 10 years, but the current lease will end in October. While a six-month extension is possible, depending on the pace of the redevelopment, a relocation will still eventually be necessary.

“Through circumstances out of VPC’s control, the complex where the space is located is going to be redeveloped, and CHO will need to move before the end of October 2022,” Moran wrote in an email. “CHO is hoping to find another organization that would be willing to host our food and clothes pantry.”

At the moment, the Vienna Courts redevelopment appears to still be in its early stages.

Developer Steve Bukont of BFR Construction presented a proposal to the Vienna Town Council on Sept. 27 that would replace the four existing office buildings at 127-133 Park Street with 15 one-floor, multifamily residences “to provide an alternative housing option” near the town’s commercial corridor.

The Vienna Planning Commission discussed the project at a work session in October, but the town’s development activity map indicates that it hasn’t proceeded to the required public hearing stage of the rezoning process.

Bukont says existing leases in the office complex will be honored, and tenants are being given “ample time to prepare.”

“We extended our assistance on relocation options and continue to have talks with realtors, government officials and local charities,” Bukont said by email. “We eagerly join the greater community to find a long term solution to retain these organizations locally.”

According to Moran, CHO is seeking an approximately 950-square-foot space that’s available for free or below market rate and can accommodate both a food pantry and a clothing closet.

In addition to storing donated goods, CHO uses its pantry as a distribution center where volunteers sort food and other items that approximately 40 families pick up every month. The nonprofit serves 600 to 800 families, or 2,500 to 3,500 people, in Vienna, Oakton, Dunn Loring and Merrifield annually.

“There’s a lot of people in the community — more and more over the past two or three years — that just don’t have enough money to make ends meet,” Moran said. “…The ability to get some additional food, to have diapers, you just offset those expenses. [It] can make whatever money they’re making go a lot further and help them pay rent and other things.”

Moran says demand has remained fairly steady during the pandemic, in part because other individuals and community groups stepped up to assist those in need with food drives and other charitable efforts.

While another site in Vienna would be ideal, CHO is open to considering any options that are centrally located in its service area and accessible by public transportation. Moran advises anyone with a possible location or suggestions to contact CHO at facility@cho-va.com.

“We haven’t even considered that,” she said when asked what would happen if a viable space isn’t found by October. “We are assuming we’re going to find some solution.”

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Morning Notes

The Tysons Metro station across Chain Bridge Road at night (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Metro Gets More ARPA Funding — “Another $120 million in federal pandemic relief money is being released to Metro to keep the transit system running and its front-line workers on the job, congressional leaders announced Thursday.” [The Washington Post]

Multiple I-66 Closures Start Today — Construction on a new I-66 East access ramp will reduce the highway to a single travel lane approaching Cedar Lane in the Dunn Loring area during overnight hours, starting at 10 p.m. today (Friday) through Wednesday (March 9). Construction will also close the I-66 West ramp to Nutley Street in Vienna from 10 p.m. tonight until 5 a.m. Monday (March 7). [VDOT, Town of Vienna/Twitter]

Local Bakers Fundraise for Ukraine — “Sarah Marshall, owner of Vienna-based The Sweet Life NoVA, knew baking was a way to help when seeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the news…The [14] bakers each contributed desserts for boxes of baked goods with all proceeds supporting humanitarian relief in Ukraine.” [Patch]

McLean Restaurant Adds Second Location — The Union, an Asian fusion restaurant that opened in McLean in January 2020, is expanding to Arlington County with a new location in Virginia Square. Owner Giridhar Sastry says construction is nearly done, and the venue could start serving food by the end of this month. [ARLnow]

Reston Nonprofit Calls for Donations — “The Embry Rucker Community Shelter needs supplies, specifically toilet paper and bottled water! No need to schedule, just drop off at the back door. 11975 Bowman Towne Drive, Reston, VA 20190. Thank you in advance!” [Cornerstones/Twitter]

Deadline for Lorton Vision Survey Extended — Fairfax County has extended the deadline for its community survey on the future of the Lorton area to Tuesday (March 8). The Lorton Visioning 2040 study will update the county’s Comprehensive Plan to guide land use, public facilities, transportation infrastructure, and other needs over the next 20 years. [Fairfax County Government/Twitter]

Reston Company Lands Huge Defense Contract — Leidos announced on Monday (Feb. 28) that it has been awarded a Defense Enclave Services (DES) contract worth an estimated $11.5 billion by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). The contract will last at least four years with three two-year option periods. [Intelligence Community News]

County Board Celebrates GMU — “George Mason University’s president Dr. Gregory Washington, received a proclamation recognizing the university’s 50th anniversary. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay presented the proclamation to Washington on behalf of the board at its public meeting on Feb. 22, 2022.” [The Connection]

It’s Friday — Today will be sunny, with a high near 46 and low around 34. The sunrise was at 6:35 a.m. and sunset will be at 6:05 p.m. [weather.gov]

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will allocate $5 million toward the expansion of the Capital Area Food Bank facility in Newington (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted last week to allocate $5 million of coronavirus recovery funding to the Capital Area Food Bank to expand its Newington warehouse due to increased need.

The project to build a 45,000-square-foot facility is expected to cost $35 million and take two years to complete. CAFB also sought funding from other private partners and the Northern Virginia local governments and communities they serve. Fairfax County is the first to make a formal announcement of funding, CAFB spokeswoman Hilary Salmon told FFXnow.

“We’re happy not only to invest in them but to keep them in Fairfax County as they had looked at relocating to other places,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay said at the board’s meeting.

Located at ​​6833 Hill Park Drive, Lorton, CAFB distributed 27 million meals throughout Northern Virginia during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, McKay said. That was nearly triple the amount of the previous year. CAFB also serves Alexandria City, Arlington, and Prince William counties, as well as Fairfax City, Manassas, Manassas Park and Falls Church.

To keep up with the demand, the food bank had to double warehouse capacity through short-term leases.

The CAFB doesn’t anticipate demand will subside, and expects to distribute 8 million meals in Fairfax County this year. The expansion would increase square footage by nearly 400%, McKay said.

Lee District Supervisor Rodney Lusk said, over the last two years, over 3 million pounds of food had been provided to Lee and Mount Vernon district residents through food drops and distributions.

“Of that 3 million pounds, approximately 1.5 million has come from the Capital Area Food Bank,” he said. “So, this is a very needed thing in our area and what I’m hearing, which is almost unbelievable, is that there is still great need for food and we don’t see that basically truncating or dropping as a result of the change in the pandemic.”

In CFAB’s 2021 Hunger Report, a survey of more than 1,800 of its clients found that two-thirds of respondents visited a food pantry for the first time in the year prior to spring 2021. Nearly 90% of those respondents said their need for free food was a direct result of COVID-19.

The county expects to receive the American Rescue Plan Act funds it will allocate to the bank no sooner than spring, McKay said. The county is drafting an agreement to protect the funds if the project doesn’t move forward or if there are unexpected changes.

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Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce members organize food donations for their monthly “Third Thursday” backpack drive on Feb. 17 (courtesy Andrew Clark)

The inspiration for the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce’s new monthly backpack drive came to Andrew Clark on the Saturday before Christmas.

“I’m at home and realized — really, an epiphany of how good my life is,” the chamber’s board of directors chairman recalled last Friday (Feb. 18).

Clark has been volunteering for the Merrifield-based nonprofit Food for Others since before COVID-19, but while assisting the food bank with distribution, he saw how much the pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in the area, especially among children, he told FFXnow.

Turning his personal volunteer work into an organizational practice, he decided to take advantage of the chamber’s resources and influence within the Tysons business community to support Food for Others’ Power Pack Program, which provides backpacks with a weekend’s worth of meals to local students.

The idea was received enthusiastically by the chamber’s Community Engagement Committee, which focuses on fostering partnerships between businesses and the rest of the Tysons community, including nonprofits.

Supported by an ongoing GoFundMe, the Third Thursday backpack initiative launched in January, with collections taking place at the chamber’s home at Intelligent Office (1934 Old Gallows Road) in Tysons on the third Thursday of every month — hence the name.

The chamber has collected about 550 food-filled backpacks across its two drives so far, the most recent coming on Feb. 17, according to Clark.

“On Facebook, [we’re] getting reach out from the community: how can we help? And I love that,” he said. “I love the area, the mindset, the give, and from that, the core team is growing. The donations…keep growing.”

While Fairfax County has a low food insecurity rate, it was home to the highest number of food-insecure people in Virginia even prior to the pandemic, according to the Fairfax Food Council, which says that approximately 58,000 residents, including over 23,000 children, lack access to quality, nutritional food.

The nonprofit Feeding America estimates that the rate of food insecurity in the county jumped from 5.8% in 2019 to 7.4% in 2021.

Through its Power Pack Program, Food for Others provides weekend meals to more than 2,500 children at 34 participating elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school, according to its website.

Each backpack contains two types of food each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with two snacks and two drinks.

The food bank is currently delivering about 3,400 backpacks each weekend, according to the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce, which seeks to collect 100 packs with each monthly drive.

“We’re so grateful for the help of the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce!” Food for Others said in an emailed statement. “The need for weekend food is really high among Fairfax County students right now, and the work of local organizations to build packs makes a tremendous difference in how many we can serve.”

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